Thursday, September 01, 2005

Heaven And Earth

With the focus lately being so much on our state leadership's failure to do anything productive with our schools we forget there are other things they have failed to achieve as well. Most notably our State Parks and cutting programs to help the poor. The Austin Chronicle today has two articles about Perry and Dewhurst rallying the Zealots: Preying for Votes: The Governor's Preachers and Craddick in Dewhurst's School Finance Prayers. I thought this was particularly illuminating of these people's attitudes:
But when Dewhurst addressed how the 2005 Legislature pumped $3.5 billion into Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program "to protect the neediest in our society" – a guaranteed applause line at most gatherings – the crowd drew strangely quiet. So he moved quickly to a new law limiting abortions, and the audience cheered on cue. Nice save.
So much for the least of our brothers. They both got loud applause for their gay-bashing comments. These are the "values" voters the Republicans are trying to attract. This is just their attempt to whip-up the religious right to come out and vote against Proposition 2.

They both appear more than willing though to place all the blame for the failed special sessions at the feet of Speaker Craddick and the Houston Chronicle is more than willing to join in, Texas representatives cede too much power to lobbyists, ignoring their duty to serve the public. This editorial gives way too much credit to Perry and Dewhurst. They never actually brought forward fair plans for schools. Every plan introduced by the Republicans would have raised taxes on the poor and middle class and lowered taxes on the wealthy. That's not fair! It then asks this naive question:
As Chronicle reporter R.G. Ratcliffe reported Sunday, some lobbyists wield influence because they represent wealthy businesses whose executives give politicians millions of dollars in campaign donations. Some lobbyists represent associations of thousands of professionals and prominent citizens. Others have worked in state government and nourished lifelong, trusting friendships with legislators.
But I disagree with this part of their answer:
Lobbyists and their clients have the same right as any citizen to petition the government and speak their views. However, when the lobbyists, together or severally, set out to thwart the goal of providing an adequate system of financing the public schools, legislators have a duty to rank the desire of the lobby below the need for education.
In theory that's true but in reality that is completely false. How many times did a single mother on CHIP take a legislator to dinner as opposed to a lobbyist from SBC. I think we all know the answer to that. Our current political system in this state allows the wealthy to buy more access for their views giving them more rights than those with less money. The Chronicle also printed another article about how distraught the Lt. Gov. is over the problems with our state's tax structure, Dewhurst fears tax-stalemate fallout. The Lt. Gov. is quoted as being:
"disappointed, probably sick" over the failures but said he and senators continued to work on the problem.
He's sick, just not sick enough to fix the problem. Although right before that we are again reminded of who really owns the power in this state:
Also contributing to the problem was the failure of lobbyists representing competing business interests to unite behind a plan. A tax overhaul, including a proposal by Gov. Rick Perry to close loopholes in the corporate franchise tax, also failed during two special sessions this summer.
Read that again if you have to. The business lobbyists could not agree on a plan to fund the schools in this state and therefore a plan did not pass. Understand. Not that the "big 3" couldn't agree but those that own the "big 3" couldn't agree. Get it? Good. Let's see, major healthcare problems, poor people losing their electricity stipend and State Parks closing. Which one do you think should be taken care of first? You guessed it, the State Parks:
On another issue, Dewhurst said he thinks the Legislative Budget Board will find money to cover an emergency request from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The agency is seeking an extra $2 million a year to protect 40 jobs and avoid closing or transferring control of nine state parks.
This is in no way meant to make light of those 40 jobs or to say that the State Parks should not stay open. It's just to point out that when something is important to people they will move heaven and earth and the LBB to get it taken care of. It just shows what the leadership in our stat will move heaven and earth for.


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